We all know there are countless challenges and obstacles when dealing with dementia or Alzheimer’s. In addition to the slow and often devastating mental impairments, a physical decline occurs, as well. After all, there is that mind/body connection—and when the mind begins to falter, so do other parts. The brain controls so much of our ability to move, making physical exercise important when experiencing mental decline.
A significant problem with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients is being overly medicated. Side effects from current drugs on the market can lead to problems of their own, making it important to seek out other ways of stress relief and physical stimulation. Keeping busy, after all, helps those suffering from memory impairment. Often times, feeling confused can be counterbalanced somewhat by staying active, whether it’s through arts and crafts, cooking, playing games or other activities.
Music, in particular, can help ameliorate the agitation often experienced by people suffering from memory loss. Agitation, after all, is a result of feeling lost or dazed and confused being in unfamiliar surroundings with unfamiliar people. In the U.K., for instance, music therapy has been recommended to doctors and nurses for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients as a means of “social prescribing,” whereupon people can interact with each other and reduce anxiety.
Similarly, dance therapy incorporates a physical workout and subsequent stress relief, paving the way for those afflicted with memory loss to feel a sense of relief. Additionally, if particular music or dance moves from a person’s past can be brought to the surface, it can bring about some happy memories, also contributing positively to their mental health.
The BBC in London has created a BBC Music Memories database, which allows memory loss patients to listen to over 1,800 classical songs and show tunes to help incorporate happy memories from art into their day-to-day lives. Let’s hope the U.S. follows suit!
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